NWS: 2005 Awards banquet notes

THREE-TIME CHAMPION JEFF JEFFERSON HONORED SHELTON, Wash. (October 8, 2005) --The hard work put in over the course of a race season paid off for Jeff Jefferson Saturday night at the Little Creek Resort and Casino in Shelton, Wash. He...


SHELTON, Wash. (October 8, 2005) --The hard work put in over the course of a race season paid off for Jeff Jefferson Saturday night at the Little Creek Resort and Casino in Shelton, Wash. He was honored as the 2005 NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series champion at the season-ending awards banquet.

The Naches, Wash. native won his third consecutive series title, and the battle was close each time. He has won his three championships by a total of 77 points with this season's margin of 51 points making up the lion's share of that total. The close nature of these championship runs by Jefferson exemplifies the level of competition in the Northwest Series.

The Northwest Series championship hinged on the final race of the season on September 25 at Wenatchee Valley's Super Oval with Brandon Riehl, Jefferson and Pete Harding separated by just 30 points. With season standings that close, the scenarios to win the title for the three drivers were many. In the end, though, it was Jefferson who persevered and won the race and earned this unprecedented third straight title.

So, this night belonged to Jefferson and the entire No. 42 LeMay Car Museum/Morgan Transport Chevrolet team as they officially accepted the championship trophy while its driver collected the title ring.

"This is really a special night for not only me, but also my entire race team," said Jefferson. "I'd like to thank NASCAR and all of the track owners and operators in the Northwest Series. It was a great year."

"I owe a great deal to Chuck Carruthers, my crew chief, for making this happen. To think that we could three of these in a row with the caliber of competition we have in the Northwest Series is amazing.

"I also need to congratulate all of the competitors of the series for the jobs that they did. Our series is a great big family and it's an honor to go out there from race to race."

Despite carrying a lead, albeit a slim one, into the final race of the season Riehl did have to settle for the runner-up position. However, the progress that the Boring, Oregon-based driver has made over the past three seasons is unquestioned. He drove the Aero Turbine/Darrel's Economy Muffler Chevrolet to a pair of wins this season.

Four-time champion Garrett Evans collected the third-place trophy as he finished in the top five for the second straight year in the Leonard Evans Hyundai/Signature Finance/Pure Power Lubricants Chevrolet. The East Wenatchee, Wash. resident was also honored with the Sportsmanship Award. This award could have been given for the distinction Evans has brought to the series for many years, but a magnanimous offer made earlier this season stands out. At Yakima (Wash.) Speedway, Jefferson, who was leading the point standings at the time, blew up the motor in his car in practice with no back-up available. Evans didn't think twice before offering his back-up car to the Jefferson team despite the personal gain he might have incurred with the points leader out of the event.

The fourth-place trophy went to Tacoma, Washington's Wilbur Bruce and his Quality Rentals/Rent 'N Roll Chevy team. Bruce was also honored with the Driver Achievement Award. Bruce was back in the series on a full-time basis for the first time in many years.

Harding, out of Surrey, B.C. Canada, finished fifth and collected the POWERade "Power Move of the Race" Award for the 2005 season.

Also for the third straight season, the Northwest Series has had a rookie take the bull by the horns and post a top-10 finish in the championship point standings. This year it was Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year Award winner Jeff Barkshire of Auburn, Wash. with the Centennial Batteries/Pure Power Lubricants Dodge team as he follows in the footsteps of Jason Jefferson, Jeff's younger brother, and Travis Bennett.

There were other special awards presented throughout the evening, as well. Gary Lewis earned the Featherlite "Most Improved Driver" Award. Jefferson also was awarded the Bud Pole for the 2005 season along with the Most Popular Driver Award.

Racing, however, is not done this year for the top-10 finishers in points. Jefferson, Riehl, Evans, Bruce, Harding, Barkshire and Lewis will be joined by Jeff Bailey, John Dillon and John Bender at the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown to be held at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway November 10-12. This special awards-only event will bring together the top 10 drivers from each of the four NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division series with over $500,000 in prize money on the line in front of a SPEED Channel national television audience.


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Drivers Jeff Jefferson , Jeff Bailey , Jason Jefferson , John Bender , Gary Lewis , Jeff Barkshire